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Video Game / Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Atari 2600)

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Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is a 1982 video game for the Atari 2600 that was released by Parker Brothers, and was also ported to the Intellivision.

In this game, you play Luke Skywalker, who must fly a snowspeeder across the snowy terrain of Hoth to keep the Imperial Walkers (AT-ATs) from reaching the Rebel base. A scanner at the bottom of the screen lets you know how many Walkers there are and how close they are getting to the base, which is on the right side of the scanner.

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This game, along with Star Wars: The Arcade Game and two other Star Wars-themed Atari 2600 games, were reviewed together in an episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd, as well as the first episode of Jontron's StarCade.

Not to be confused with the 1985 Atari arcade game of the same name.


This game provides examples of

  • Attack Its Weak Point: While the Walkers normally require forty-eight hits (thirty in the Intellivision) to take down, a flashing spot (described in the manual as a bomb hatch) will occasionally appear on the Walker, which will destroy the Walker with one shot if the player hits it. In some game variations (5-8 and 13-16 on the Atari 2600 version), however, the bomb hatch actually releases a Smart Bomb, which then tracks you until you destroy it.
  • Collision Damage: Some game variations (9-16) feature Solid Walkers, which destroy your speeder if you touch them. However, this also severely damages the Walker (the equivalent of shooting it twenty-five times).
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  • Endless Game: You play until you run out of speeders or the Walkers reach the Rebel base.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: Similar to Defender, but unlike Defender, the radar is not centered on you, it always has the rebel base at the far right. Instead, there's a pair of brackets that indicate where you are relative to the landscape.
  • Fan Remake: The homebrew Battle Of Hoth for the ColecoVision.
  • Hit Points: Your speeder can only take several hits before it is destroyed, the exact number being random (between 2 and 5), and Smart Bombs dealing more damage than normal attacks. You can land down in the valley at the bottom of the screen and get your speeder repaired a few times per speeder. It's also automatically healed when The Force activates.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: "The Force", which kicks in at approximately a minute and a half into the game (or each new life), and about every two minutes after the last one wore off. It gives you about twenty seconds of invulnerability while the Star Wars theme music plays and your ship flashes rainbow colors.
  • Scoring Points: For each hit on the Imperial Walkers and for taking each one down, as well as for shooting down the Walkers' missiles and smart bombs. In games where the Walkers are Solid, you also get points for ramming them.
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    • Every 10,000 Points: You get an extra Snowspeeder every 2000 points.
  • Shoot 'em Up: Similar to Defender.
  • Shows Damage: The Walkers change color as they take damage (starting at black when undamaged, and then turning grey, blue, purple, red, and finally yellow, changing color every eight hits). They also move and fire more slowly with each color change. The speeder likewise turns yellow when it's been damaged, but it doesn't change color further as it gets more damaged.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: See Invincibility Power-Up above.
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